Year 11 Legal Studies students were given a real insight into the breadth of possibilities in a Law career as they listened to two personal accounts from Justices presently serving as Appeals Judges.

Justice Pamela Tate has had a long and distinguished career that included Constitutional and Commercial Law and saw her progress from barrister to silk,  serving as Victorian Solicitor General prior to being appointed Judge in the Appeals Court in 2010.

Dr Tate has successfully juggled her career, often managing to be home for dinner with her family—and sometimes returning to work in the evenings.

Justice Kim Hargraves had always wanted to do Law—despite not having anyone in his family ever go to university and not knowing a single person who was a lawyer.

Most of his early work was in Commercial Law, which he described wryly as, “basically people fighting about money.” As part of his impressive career, he was appointed to the Victorian Appeals Court last year.

Students were also given some very good advice about how to manage this career path; one that can really burn people out. Both speakers insisted that involvement with family, exercise and outside interests have been essential for a happy and healthy life and successful career.

“Mentoring is front and centre—all those who have been really successful have had good mentors,” says Justice Hargraves.

“I get a great deal of satisfaction solving a complex case,” says Justice Tate. “But this image of judges ‘living in ivory towers’ is just not correct. We have all the facts we need to make our decisions,” she says.

“The benefit of having three judges means we can also discuss the case,” explained Justice Hargraves. “We are very aware that somebody’s life is going to be radically changed by our decisions.”

After the presentation, and an extended question-time, here is some feedback from students:

“I was really impressed with how passionate they were. I have been sitting on the fence about committing to a career path—I feel Law is much more likely for me now. Maybe Criminal Law?”

“It’s been good to have a real-world, personal account about what it means to have a career in Law.” Alex.

“Just hearing what they went through to become a lawyer was very encouraging.”

“Very lucky to have people of such prestige visit us.”